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HUAWEI responds to accusation that it solicited fake reviews of Mate 10 Pro

HUAWEI says it was a genuine mistake, but the harm it's already done.

Published onFebruary 13, 2018

  • In a Facebook group, HUAWEI recruited people to leave “reviews” of the Mate 10 Pro on Best Buy’s website.
  • Since the beginning of the contest, there have been dozens of fake “reviews” on Best Buy, and the Mate 10 Pro is not even out yet.
  • HUAWEI says that there was an internal miscommunication and is working on removing posts by participants where it isn’t disclosed they participated in the review program.

According to 9to5Google, HUAWEI recruited people to write fake Mate 10 Pro reviews on Best Buy. The phone has not even launched yet in the US.

The HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro was supposed to be the Chinese manufacturer’s big splash in the highly lucrative US market. In terms of specs, the Mate 10 Pro has everything that a modern Android flagship must have: a large AMOLED display, dual-lens camera, octa-core processor, 6 GB of RAM, a beefy battery, and water resistance. HUAWEI even managed to partner up with Verizon and AT&T to offer its flagship to US consumers. That is, until the two carriers scrapped their plans to sell HUAWEI phones in the US entirely due to growing political concerns that Chinese phones may pose a security threat.

While HUAWEI has other means to sell the Mate 10 Pro in the US, losing two of the largest US carriers in a market that is dictated by carrier partnerships comes as a substantial blow. How do you sell a relatively unknown phone in a highly competitive market without the help of carriers? By asking people to write fake reviews, apparently.

The Chinese electronics manufacturer owns a private Facebook group comprising 60,000 members. On January 31, it held a contest where people were asked to explain why they want to own the Mate 10 Pro on Best Buy’s website for a chance to test the device. As you can see, the post does not direct online users to write reviews per se, but when you go to Best Buy’s website, most of the 108 comments are apparently just that: reviews. Most are posted after January 31, the day the contest began, and they describe in detail how the Mate 10 Pro is the best smartphone in the market. The device has an excellent 4.8 stars rating from 71 ratings. Mind you, the Mate 10 Pro has not been released in the US yet.

“Unbeatable smart phone [sic] of the year,” “loving this phone’s camera,” “great new flagship phone,” “great phone that puts Samsung to shame” are some of the comments found on the website.

We’ve reached out to HUAWEI, and the company spokesperson replied, explaining that there were two different campaigns in motion at the same time. One was designed to get more users to sign up to the beta program, and the other was to elicit feedback from Mate 10 Pro beta users on sales channels. According to the company, there was an internal miscommunication, and the social media manager made the mistake of directing everyone in the Facebook group to leave “reviews” on Best Buy:

Huawei’s first priority is always the consumer and we encourage our customers to share their experiences with our devices in their own voice and through authentic conversation. We believe there is confusion around a recent social media post reaching out to recruit new beta testers. While there are reviews from beta testers with extensive knowledge of the product, they were in no way given monetary benefits for providing their honest opinions of the product. However, we are working to remove posts by beta testers where it isn’t disclosed they participated in the review program.

Whether you think HUAWEI’s explanation holds water or not, the potential benefits of the move are outweighed by the negative publicity the stunt created for the company. Simply put, HUAWEI, a top three global manufacturer, should have known better.

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